dglobalnews.com Vermont Governor Phil Scott Stalls On Marijuana Bill
Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Medical | By Benjamin Edwards

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Stalls On Marijuana Bill

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Stalls On Marijuana Bill

Republican Governor Phil Scott announced Wednesday he would veto the Vermont legislature's bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

"If the Legislature agrees to make the changes I am seeking, we can move this discussion forward in a way that ensures the public health and safety of our communities", he said.

"We are disappointed by the governor's decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor's offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session", says Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

However, he has reservations about legalization because of concerns over how the change in policy would affect drug-impaired driving rates, children and more. The legislation would have allowed adults over age 21 to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow as many as two mature plants per household, starting in July 2018. Scott said he'd consider a new bill that addresses these issues if the state legislature were to send one to his desk during the upcoming veto session. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia.

The Latest on Vermont's governor vetoing a marijuana legalization bill (all times local): 2:40 p.m. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is vetoing a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state and is sending it back to the legislature with suggestions for changes.

Scott said he would provide legislators with "recommended changes" to the bill, S.22.

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Despite the illegality of its recreational use, the Vermont Department of Health found that the state has among the "highest prevalence of marijuana use" across all age groups, and the second highest of all states among those age 12 to 25.

"I am not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana, and I recognize there is a clear societal shift in that direction", he said. Marijuana legalization has been on Vermont's table for a while now. Similar to Washington, D.C.'s marijuana law, it would not have allowed for sale or commercial cultivation of the drug. It would have created a study commission to develop legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. Scott said he would ask legislators to give a state commission at least a year to study best practices before making its recommendations. "However ... we must get this right".

That could happen at a veto session scheduled for next month.

I want to reiterate that we can all work together on this issue in a thoughtful and responsible way. After sitting on it for most of the session and almost burying it in committee, the House narrowly passed the thing, doing so at such a later hour that the Senate had to attach its version as an amendment to another bill.

The Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the governor's decision. "We hope we can work with the governor and the legislature to come up with a proposal that reflects those priorities".

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